Looking back: Joe Biden and his decades of public life

Politics

Presidential hopeful Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., gestures during a speech to students on the University of Iowa campus, April 13, 1987, Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Rodney White)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden mounted two previous presidential bids in 1988 and 2008, never making it out of the Democratic primaries.

In 2020, the third time’s the charm.

Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Biden has been a fixture in Democratic national politics since he won an upstart campaign to become a U.S. senator from Delaware in 1972. He would chair multiple Senate committees and serve in the Senate until 2009, when he became vice president alongside President Barack Obama.

Biden represented the country at international summits, and was among those in the Situation Room the night that Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden. In November 2012, he and Obama celebrated their reelection in Chicago as red, white and blue confetti rained down.

Nearly one-half of Biden’s life has played out in the public eye. That has included moments of tragedy, such as the early deaths of his first wife and infant daughter in a car crash, and later the death of his elder son from cancer. There have also been highs, such as when Obama surprised him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2017.

Biden emerged this spring as the Democratic presidential nominee from a field of about two-dozen candidates including political veterans and rising young stars. He then tapped one of them, California Sen. Kamala Harris, as his running mate, and the two slogged through the marathon of a presidential race complicated by social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

With Obama, Biden was part of a historic ticket that gave the country its first African American president. In choosing Harris as his own running mate, he enabled the breaking of another barrier — the first Black woman to be elected vice president in America.

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